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A Smile as Big as the Moon (2012)

TV Movie  -  Family  -  29 January 2012 (USA)
7.6
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Tanner Dow ...
Breezy Eslin ...
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Jamal (as Tyrin Niles)
Peter ten Brink ...
Ben
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Keith Flippen ...
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Storyline

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Plot Keywords:

huntsville alabama | alabama

Taglines:

A special education teacher, his class, and their inspiring journey through U.S. space camp

Genres:

Family

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Details

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Release Date:

29 January 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pour le sourire d'un enfant  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Space Camp actually "franchises" itself, with internationally licensed Space Camps presently (as of 2012) including: Space Camp Turkey, Space Camp Canada (known as "Camp Spatial" in French), Space Camp Spain, European Space Camp (located at Andøya Rocket Range) in Norway, and Space Camp Belgium. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center Foundation is in the process of licensing additional camps in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Malaysia. See more »

Goofs

After the Orbiter lands at the end of the mission, the scene inside the simulated cockpit has the sound of jet engines slowing down. The orbiter does not have any jet engines, and doesn't even use rocket engines during landing; it simply glides to its landing. See more »

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User Reviews

It has "The Right Stuff"
30 January 2012 | by (NC) – See all my reviews

In this fact-based Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, Mike Kersjes is a special education teacher and football coach at Forest Hills Northern High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1988.

On a field trip to a planetarium, Mike's easily distracted students start misbehaving and are taken out. The school is informed that the students shouldn't come back. Ben, who has Down's Syndrome, took a bunch of brochures for space camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and once they are back on the bus, he hands them out to the other students, and even after arriving home, Ben wants to go to space camp.

It's a crazy idea, but Mike is willing to consider this because he believes such an experience will be good for his kids, who are often told what they can't do and not given chances to prove what they can do. His co-teacher Robynn tries to talk Mike out of it but if Mike is told no, he says he won't pursue it further. Mike is told no and asks to speak to a supervisor. Then he is essentially told no once again but given the option of submitting a proposal. Which he does, despite being told he is out of his mind by Principal Keller. But Ben's father is on the school board and can go over the principal's head.

The kids like the idea, and Mike and Robynn travel to Huntsville to meet with Col. Wechsler, who has the final say. Believe it or not, even though Dr. Barnhart has shown the teachers what is involved and tried to discourage Mike from continuing to pursue this, the mission is a go. As long as Mike can raise the $50,000 required to get the kids there. And as long as the kids successfully complete the training required to make sure they can benefit from the experience rather than embarrassing themselves and the school and guaranteeing no other "special" children will get to attend space camp. And as long as the kids don't do anything else to get in trouble so the principal can definitely say no.

It's an uphill battle. And many of the other students at the school, including the football players who start feeling their head coach is neglecting them, continue to make fun of these "losers". What they will have to learn to do is what Jackie Robinson learned to do (though he isn't mentioned, this pioneer in baseball had to endure all sorts of abuse without fighting back).

These kids are not losers, of course. One man who knows that is Big Dan, who has Ben and one of the other boys working in one of his burger restaurants. He wishes all his employees were as good as they are. And most of the kids have specific talents. Some are even geniuses in their own way but can't function in a normal classroom. They just have to learn to use their strengths and work together.

You know if the movie was made, they somehow made it to Huntsville and probably conducted themselves admirably. Sure, there may still be obstacles even there, but so what? They made it, right?

Everyone does a good job in this movie. John Corbett carries the movie capably and pushes the children to do their best. Jessy Schram is not merely pretty but a fine assistant in Mike's efforts. Her best scene is the one in Huntsville that apparently makes all the difference. Robynn is from the South and knows how to be charming in the way other Southerners expect.

All the young actors with lines do a good job (I seem to recall several kids who didn't have lines but made the trip). Whether the actors are disabled or not I can't say, but either way they all did really well. Any actors who aren't disabled are quite convincing as kids with problems, and all of the kids make us care. And if they are disabled, they have quite a challenge but meet the standard.

Logan Huffman is the standout member of the group; Scott is dyslexic but constantly asks to be put in with the "normal" students; he takes tests to prove he can function in regular classes, but eventually stops making fun of the others and starts working with them. And Mike wants him to be a leader, which he doesn't believe he can be. Oh, yes, he can.

Space camp is everything it needs to be. It really looks like training for astronauts, and teaches the viewers about the science and the various challenges astronauts face.

And all of this can be watched by the whole family. There is some name-calling and minor violence, but nothing objectionable.

The term "The Right Stuff" is used here. This movie has that.


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